Race Report: The West Virginia Mountain Bike State Championships

I have already scripted a long rant on the days leading up to the WVA Mountain Bike State Championships which included an epic pre-ride of the race course
read that here
PRE-Race Race Report
now... it has been a few days since the weekend...
lets see what my mind will regurgitate

Race Report: The West Virginia Mountain Bike State Championships

race day arrived with an easy morning after a mellow night
the 1 PM start time had Steve Hartell and I moving slowly about the cabin
there was no real focus on our bikes, our bodies, or our gear
it seemed like we had all the time in the world
then SNAP!
we had to hustle and get into the car and rush a half hour into Davis so that
we could register, grab breakfast, and line up to race

it was the classic pre-race madness
only not really... it seemed rushed... we actually had plenty of time to make it happen
not early... but not late
plenty of time

in Davis we parked ROCK STAR getaway style right in front of Blackwater Bikes
which was killer... we were able to register and grab breakfast with our bikes and our gear within arms reach


with pancakes, eggs, and bacon in my belly I registered
I slipped into the DCMTB kit and attached the WVMBA number to my bicycle
there was the desire to snap some photos at the pre-race meeting
yet I feared that I could not manage it all
racing was more important than documentation
but I tried

so with the camera I failed to get any good shots
so with the camera I failed to internalize what was being said by the Race Directors

the pre-race meeting happened a few minutes later than expected

or right on time if your watch is set for West Virginia time

after the slightly later than scheduled pre-race meeting racers pedaled their way to the START-FINISH staging area and took to the line
putting the camera back in the car got me to the Start Line a few seconds late
people had already taken their spots

I could see a number of Clydesdales clustered on the front row
there was a slot on the front line
I asked if I could slide in as I put my bicycle in place

no friends are made making that move
but... it had to happen... I hoped that the racers around me were not too offended... I petitioned for understanding
small talk at the line may have eased things again... I assured those around me and behind me that I would do my best to race out fast
the man to my side asked if I was as fast as Scott Young... I told him I would try to be

then... as the classes in front of us were released with the sounds of the word go and the explosion of a bottle rocket we were invited to move our amoeba mass of two wheeled machines forward to the next line
this threw a wrench in the machine
when I got to the line I was in the second row behind a woman racer who appeared to be in one of the more mature race categories

I placed my tire between her rear tire and Rob Stull's rear wheel... telling the guy to my left that I planned on chasing Rob's wheel
then I asked Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes if that was a good idea to try and hang with Rob... Scott lit up and smiled saying it was a good idea
I took that as a hint that Rob would be fast and attempting to chase his wheel would send me blowing up fast... yet I thought off the line this would be a good course of action

everyone was totally mellow waiting for the start
there was some question if we took off at the sound of the bottle rocket or would there be a release at the word go
then it happened... the countdown happened fast... it was seconds to start... it happened on the word GO!
there was no time to even consider the bottle rocket
the racers around me were launched off like rockets themselves

to my right one of the Clydesdales took off like a jackrabbit
I could see his burnt orange and black kit blurring off into the distance
I was hammering pretty good trying to muscle around the woman in front of me and past the guy on my left shoulder
there was body contact and close handlebars
luckily bar ends are out of vogue or it could have been ugly

on the road I managed to thrust myself ahead of most of the pack chasing the jackrabbits
the second line at the start seemed good enough

turning onto the grass the racers were still several bikes abreast
there was a good bit of racers changing positions
more contact with shoulders and elbows
I tried to pick off as many riders as I could before that tight left hand turn that would act as "the hole shot"

after that point the double track turned to single track and there would be very few options to pass
it was there that things would start to string out
I knew that I wanted to be ahead of any cluster fuck or any single track caterpillar lined up behind a slower racer who decided to start out fast and settle in early

I had gone out pretty hard
a great deal of energy had been expended
yet I felt pretty good
with things starting to string out I tried to find a groove

a high intensity groove

when there were opportunities I tried to force the pass on the racers in front of me
a few times I bobbled on the bike
skidding out and losing a spot or two
then fighting to get that spot back

so much of this was about want
and I wanted it

working hard I caught that jack rabbit of a Clydesdale
making a fast clean pass on a short stretch of double track just before it got narrow again

I had come down to this race knowing that there would be some solid competition
it was known that there would be Scott Young of Blackwater bikes and a few others
but I did not know who those "others" were

who was the greatest threat in the Clydesdale Class?
what was I up against?
would I be able to match them on their home court?
what sort of race was unfolding around me?
where did I fit into this mix?

headed into the woods from the winding trail through the field I was feeling pretty good
the body felt good and I was in a solid position towards the front of the sport pack
and more importantly
I was in control of the Clydesdale Class
controlling the race from the front

the pre-ride proved itself to be beyond helpful
although I had not practiced the start
I was conscious of the fast start and the need to make "the hole shot"
beyond that... I also had a good idea of the course and the break down to various sections
as well as the ride-ability of various sections
I felt confident that I could pick a good line through the technical rock gardens that were approaching

although I had pre-ridden the course the day prior I was not sure how hard to push it
it was early in the race
I had already expended a great deal of energy to get to the front of the pack
it was not clear how fast "race pace" should be
it was not yet to be determined how long I would be able to maintain pace

I had not idea how fast I could attack the course
I attacked hard

the day prior things had been taken at a decent intensity... but not so fast that I had any idea of how fast I could attack the course
there were a few spots where I remembered "over cooking" the turns at pre-ride intensity... which made me certain not to approach those same turns with too much speed

things were feeling pretty good
the bike and the body were operating at maximum efficiency
I tried to maintain focus
often my mind wanders
one second of loss focus would certainly throw me off the bike
I worked hard to maintain focus

in the woods I found myself alone
in the open field I had seen the lead sport riders ahead of me
then I could also see a jersey or two a ways behind me
but in the woods... I was alone
in some ways this was good

I tried not to concern myself with the bikes ahead of me or the bikes behind me
it was important for me to focus on the bike between my legs
I fought the distraction of the other racers and their position
yet, I could not help occasionally glancing over my shoulder
there was no telling how far behind me the chasing Clydesdales were

at the trail split I was feeling pretty good
seeing Matt Marcus at that point on the course gave me a bit of energy
as if I was delivering what was being asked of me

the first lap went past pretty well
it was not without its flaws
even with my errors I felt I was still strong in the Overall Sport Standings

at the start of the longer more technical second lap I had a feeling I was in the top handful of Sport riders
but that was starting to change
racers started to catch me
I was as generous with the passing as I could be
faster racers should be in front of me
so... I pulled over when need be
no need to cause a crash over competing with someone who deserves to be in front of me
I tried to offer what I would ask of another racer

things were going along splendidly
I was mixing refueling
alternating between water in my hydration pack, gatorade in my water bottle on the bike, and GATOR-RAGE (a Red Bull-Gatorade mix) in a flask in my jersey pocket
I had gels and such in my jersey pockets... but they were hard to obtain on this demanding course

in my head I tried to work out where I was on the course
so much of racing is mental
my back was giving me issue starting pretty early in the race... this I just tried to put out of my mind
there would be no way to resolve this back pain
it would be unlikely that there would be a massage therapist or a cranial osteopath on the trail side who could set things right
and if they were there... I am not sure if my COBRA paid insurance would cover it
so I just dealt with it

the pancake and egg breakfast just before the start seemed to be fueling my machine
when I approached the MOON ROCKS I felt as if the race was roughly half way over

at the MOON ROCKS I tried to chase the line that I took during my pre-ride
walking racers obstructed my efforts
early in my approach I was off my bike
but unlike the racers who opted to WALK ON THE MOON ROCKS... I wanted to ride
at this point in the game on the bike I managed to pass a handful of racers
most of which would pass me back soon enough as we climbed

someone's video of THE MOON ROCKS

exiting the moon rocks I left out with an Expert racer who was flowing pretty good
I managed to stay with him until we hit the crest of Hoo Doo Rocks
here I could not finish the climb and was passed by a number of the people who I had passed on the Moon Rocks
I had to let them go... it was important for me to race my race...

a mental review of my bike and body had me feeling confident
placement in the race is not entirely as important as performance
I really felt like I was putting in a solid performance
there had been some day dreaming that caused a few dabs
there had been a few moments where I lost focus and nearly went off trail for no reason at all
but over all... I was on
I had brought my A Game

after the Hoo Doo rocks there is a good deal of swooping downhill
well... not exactly downhill... more a slight grade down
I tried to flow it
trying to maintain pace
trying to keep speed
all while staying in control

trying to race smart and not let anything stupid happen

passing racers was not really a concern at this point
I was fine riding on other racer's wheels
unless they dabbed, crashed, or looked like they were about to bonk
it was not important for me to change my position
my priority was to ride safe and ride smart

although I had no concept where the trailing Clydesdales were... I felt that it was most important for me to just maintain
if someone appeared in my shadow... I would answer the call then
no need to crash and risk injury or mechanical
a solid speed was better than a reckless effort

reckless is seldom wreck less

in the final miles leading to the finish I tried to balance the scales
blueberry picking people on the trail side cheered and told me to push the pace
to leave it on the course
not to fear bonking or blowing up
the finish was near
I felt my pace was good enough
no need to take any risks
continue the path of smart racing

I thought to myself... the only race won on the downhill is a downhill race
yet... I had remembered that Steve Hartell said that some time could be made up on this last five miles if the racer had fuel in the reserves
part of me feared that the local boys would be breathing down my back at the finish

I felt my effort was put in early
this was a time to enjoy the moment
deal with the challengers when and if they arrive

as the last mile of trail wound down I started to grin
the race was nearly over and I had had a great day on the bike
I had performed to the peak of my abilities
what more could I ask of myself

a strong fast start
a strong steady pace
a technical response to the awesome challenges of the course

it felt good
I had stepped up to the challenge
I had raced a strong race and would be the top Clydesdale finisher
in fact... I would finish strong in Sport Overall!

no sprint to the line
I slowed for the dip through the creek that rolled across the line
smiling as I grabbed some water from the volunteer at the trail side

at the finish I debated rushing back to the car so that I could get my camera to snap some shots of the finishes
but really... I did not feel that the staging area or the Finish line offered a photo opportunity to give people an idea what the West Virginia Mountain Bike State Championship course was like

still jazzed from my effort I paced as I watched the racers come across the finish
I cheered and congratulated people as they came across the line

when the second and third place Clydesdale came across the line I tried to acknowledge them
but... alas... there was no bonding to be had
my words fell on deaf ears
when I spoke they waited for a pause between words and walked away

then came Scott Young... Scott had a strong day on the bike... his time was solid... but he did not have his pinnacle race performance... yet he grinned
4th Place was not bad... minutes behind me... yet still very strong in the overall
Scott like all the racers was pleased to have it over
pleased to have had such an epic day of racing on some seriously righteous trails
to have it finished to have it done

WOW! it was a good day

after the race people met back at Blackwater Bikes for FREE Pizza and FREE Beer before the awards
it was a serious good time

the top 4 Clydesdales all presented strong efforts that bring great respect to the class
it was a good day
I was pleased not only with my effort but my experience
this trip to West Virginia left me wanting more
craving to make Davis and the surrounding area a greater part of my life

The West Virginia Mountain Bike State Championships - WVMBA #8

RESULTS from the WV State Mountain Bike Championships

more photos can be found on the GWADZILLA FACEBOOK PAGE
as for other photos... I sure would like to see if there are any action shots of me!

although I won the race... not being a West Virginia State Resident I do not get to be the State Champion
I joked about DC and its lack of Statehood
mentioning that Washington DC is granted state tuition to all US Universities because of its lack of statehood
thinking that maybe this same sort of situation should apply to this mountain bike race

but really... a protest like that would not build any friendships
even if it is funny to joke about


Amod said...

Thanks for sharing great posting with wonderful images. Mini Dirt Bike

choyax said...

When I was about 3 years old my aunt came for a visit to our house with her new boyfriend. I remember the distinct sound I heard when they rode up on a Harley-Davidson touring bike and it made such an impact on me that I still vividly recall even some of the details of that bike... like the rail that ran around the back of the seat and the white grips. I also remember how most in my family looked down on the "hoodlum biker" that had stolen my aunt’s heart. It's funny how even at that age I was aware of peoples preconceived notions of bikers... and I’m glad that my parents were not like that. They welcomed this guy and as for me... I could barely contain my excitement over that bike and I thought the guy was cool. BTW... as it turns out, he was a good guy... and he started what was a lifelong love of motorcycles for me. I often think about that when kids approach me today and want to see my bike. I always make time for them just like my aunt’s boyfriend did for me.RotoShave Review

choyax said...

When I was 6, and after a long time of pleading my case, my dad finally convinced my mother that I wasn’t going to kill myself on 2 wheels and she let him spring for a used Sears mini-bike for me. It was the one with the lawn mower engine on it with the rope pull. It wasn’t much but man I loved it!
RotoShave Review